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A Classic Listing Agent Success Story About Using Professional Photography

Published: 22/01/2014
By: larry

EthanEthan Tweedie just sent me a link to a blog post by one of his clients, Karen Ferrara that describes why she uses professional real estate photography. As an example she uses a recent listing, that Ethan shot for her, in Waimea priced at $2.1M that sold in 17 days.

Karen's argument goes like this- "A REALTOR® with insistence on quality will be willing to make the investment in you (the home seller) and your valuable asset by having your home professionally photographed for listing and sale":

  1. Buyers Find You.
  2. First Impressions Matter.
  3. Homes with Professional Photography Sell for More Money.

Karen's gives this statistic: "My listing received 1,149 hits in 4 days, compared to a competitor’s listing in the same subdivision (shot from an iPhone, or point and click), which received 585 hits in 11 months, and withdrawn without sale after 843 days.

I think Karen is a great example of a listing agent that understands real estate marketing and is the kind of listing agent you need to look for if you are a home seller or a professional real estate photographer! Great job Karen! You'd be my listing agent if I had property to sell on the Big Island!

17 comments on “A Classic Listing Agent Success Story About Using Professional Photography”

  1. Here on California's central coast several properties that I have photographed for Realtors have similar stories. One home was listed at $1.375 for 12 months with very little interest using the Realtors own photos. After I photographed the home it sold in 4 weeks at $1.33M to an out-of-town buyer. Another property that sat on the market for 6 months with photos shot by the Realtor, sold in 5 days after the new photography and virtual tour was uploaded to the MLS.

    While some of the agents in my area are starting to become true believers in the power of professional photography to sell their properties and themselves, I am amazed at the majority that do themselves and the homeowners a disservice by putting mediocre, at best, photos into the MLS. I think that as homeowners become more savvy, they will only use an listing agent that puts great photography into their marketing materials. Jusy my $.02.

  2. I actually got a call from a homeowner yesterday who offered to pay for my services out of her own pocket because the photos provided by her Realtor were so bad.

    What kind of agent would let it get to that point? Obviously they aren't concerned with getting referrals. Worse yet, this was a STAFF photographer, so the agency actually has this person on payroll taking bad pictures!

  3. Larry,

    Thank you for sharing this story with the community. Karen Ferrara is one of the few agents who really "gets it" and her sales statistics show the impact her attention to high quality marketing has on her success. Not only does Karen utilize my services for her high end luxury listings, but if the house is vacant or sparsely furnished, she employs a staging service for the duration of the listing to give the home more appeal to potential buyers. This is one of many details Karen pays attention to!

    (It still baffles me that an home owner would allow any listing agent to take pictures with a point and shoot camera or iPhone?)



  4. Ethan, if that is all they see, they don't know any different. I sometimes wonder if we shouldn't contact the homeowner themselves to let them know there is a better alternative. I know, it wouldn't do you any favors I'm sure...but it is still tempting.

  5. Nice article. Apropos of this, I think it is useful to bear in mind that the image quality of the photos in mls feeds in some parts of the US has gotten quite a bit better in recent years. In these cases, the photos are being shown larger than before and with no evident compression, so high quality photos will have much more of an impact than before, and the flaws of low quality images will be that much more evident.

  6. Yes, great point David! Sadly the MLS here is lagging. Most of the agents I work with do utilize companies like Tourbuzz or their own websites to display beautiful images etc. The trend here (Like the blog post on Andy Carlson) is to have full size images on the website. Either way, pics are getting big for print and online! High quality is a must!

  7. I agree, quality first, but I think where Realtors get confused is in how you define quality. A good architectural photographer could take quality pictures that will show up great on any MLS with an iPhone5 or any other type of camera. Its not the camera that makes the difference, its in how you see and use the light in a room to communicate a feeling or lifestyle or compose the shot in such a way to capture the essence of the home.

    There are lots of realtors in my area who have better equipment than I do but their photography sucks, they simply purchased it thinking they could learn a little about photography, use the camera in other areas of their lives at the same time saving a little money. Can they do that? Sure. Do they? Most don't.

    You have to shoot a lot of properties to create a quality look that people are willing to pay for, it takes a lot of practice and its the thing, the reason for you participating in that transaction in the first place.

    Most realtors for some reason don't seem to understand that and most homeowners don't sell that many properties so they don't have the experience to know when a realtor is taking advantage of them.

  8. I've been going out to open houses for the last six weekends and last Sunday I chose six of the worst photographed high end homes to visit. At the last one, almost $600,000, I showed the agent my portfolio and explained a little about the way I make them. She said, "Then you noticed how bad our staff photographer's poor photos are." My answer was yes. the she asked me how much would I charge to rephotograph this home. I told her I'd be happy to do it at no charge, partly so she could see what I do and I want a higher end home in my book. We walked around the home and talked for nearly an hour, getting to know each other and we hit it off. We talked again to day and set up the reshoot on Friday. She told me if I can do what she thinks I can, I'll have all of her work for a lifetime and recommend me to other high end agents.

    Although I have used some flash now and then, this home is darker than most so I'm rereading Scott's book and practicing using my multiple lights before hand. By the way, this agent is one of the top 25 agents in the state, I hope this works!

  9. @Jerry Kelley - Sounds like you made a good opportunity come your way. You've got a great jump on doing a fantastic job since you had the chance to view the property ahead of the shoot. That's going to be much better than the the usual situation of seeing a home cold and having to go right to work. Don't be afraid to fill up your memory cards with fat brackets so you have all of the exposure you can possibly use in post and then some. If you can shoot tethered and can have access to the property for an extended amount of time, go all out. Impressing an agent that handles the higher end of the market that want's to find a good photographer to throw all of her work at is going to be worth the time and effort. Best of luck.

  10. How 'bout we all pool our money together and shoot a PSA starring Karen and have it run during the Super Bowl?

    Just a thought... 😉

    I wonder if she would be cool if we share it on our social media accounts? I sent a request, so I'll wait and see.

  11. Aloha Larry,

    Thank you very much for your kind words! I believe that professional photography is a MUST!! I owe it to my clients who have given me the honor and their trust in selling their precious asset. It is also part of my brand image - conduct your business with excellence and in a highly professional manner, and hire the best ! Not all professional real estate photographers are created equal - not by a country mile! I hire Ethan Tweedie for every listing. It smart marketing dollars spent, happy sellers, and these beautiful homes are featured in their best possible manner to attract the right buyer, and sell quickly and at top dollar.

    Thanks again Larry for the opportunity to be featured here on Photography for Real Estate!

    Much Aloha,

    Karen Ferrara, MBA, Realtor
    Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers

  12. Aloha Jim Bolen,

    You are too funny!!! Not sure I'm ready for the Super Bowl, lol, but I am always happy to share my success stories and the critical role that Professional photography has played in Listing a property PROPERLY, and why I hire the best, Ethan Tweedie Photography.

    Anyone can feel free to share my blog, or contact me with questions .

    Thanks again, its an honor to be here. . .


    Karen Ferrara, MBA, Realtor
    Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers

  13. I have long said that the ultimate person to sell real estate photography to are homeowners.

  14. @HEV you might be right, however, the way property is currently sold having direct contact with the owner/seller could be perceived as undermining the relationship between the realtor and the property owner. You might be biting off your nose to spite your face.

    That certainly isn't my intent, I just think realtors should focus on the things they are good at and then hire quality contractors for stills, video, home inspection, tours, staging, etc., in a way that enables these professionals to work together to provide a better experience for both the seller and buyer. If the home sells for as close to the listing price and as fast as possible then everyone wins.

    I recently had a relator ask me if he could share some shots that I had done for a property video with the person he was going to have shoot the stills. I didn't have a problem with that, first off if he had done that without asking I probably wouldn't have been the wiser for it, I guess since I had shot the video before they shot the stills I could have tried to persuade him to use me for the stills too but as strange as this may sound I'm not interested in "taking" someone's client, I think there would be a lot more work if realtors payed attention to quality of work produced. If a realtor chooses my work over the quality of another photographers, or vi-a-versa I'm OK with that, I'm not OK with losing the opportunity to work for realtors who think shooting the property on their iPhone is good enough.

  15. @Chuck, I get it. I say the homeowner because of the percentage of listings where professional photography is used is patheticly low. I think an informed homeowner would pick a realtor that used pro photography 10 to 1.

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